Washington — The House panel investigating the January 6 Capitol insurrection is set to recommend contempt charges against former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows on Monday as lawmakers are releasing new details about thousands of emails and texts he has handed over to the committee.
The expected panel vote to suggest charges against Congress contempt would take the matter to full House. It is most likely that the House will approve Meadows’ motion and bring Meadows under criminal investigation by the Justice Department.
In laying out the case for the contempt vote, the nine-member panel released a 51-page report Sunday evening that details its questions about the documents he has already provided – including 6,600 pages of records taken from personal email accounts and about 2,000 text messages. Although the panel did not release all documents, they described some.
The detailed report details Meadows’ attempts to assist Donald Trump in his victory in the election. It also includes communications with Congress members and the organizers of a rally that was held on the day of the insurrection. The report also contains frantic messages between aides as the violence unfolded.
The panel says it also wants to know more about whether Trump was engaged in discussions regarding the response of the National Guard, which was delayed for hours as the violence escalated and the rioters brutally beat police guarding the Capitol building.
According to the report, Meadows provided documents proving that Meadows sent an email to someone stating that the guard would “protect the people of Trump” and that additional personnel would be on standby. The email was not described by the committee.
According to the committee, Trump’s ex-top White House adviser “is unique in being able to provide key information because he has straddled both an official White House role and an unofficial role that is related to Mr. Trump’s reelection campaign.”
This contempt vote follows more than two years of negotiations between Meadows and his attorney. The panel also had difficulty obtaining information from Trump’s top aides such as longtime allies Steve Bannon. The House voted to recommend charges against Bannon in October, and the Justice Department indicted him on two counts of contempt last month.
This panel will attempt to compile the best record of the attack in which thousands of Trump supporters broke into Capitol, disrupting Biden’s victory certification. Meadows’ testimony may be crucial, since he was Trump’s top adviser at the time. He was also present in the White House when the rioters broke into the building.
The committee’s chairman, Democratic Rep. Bennie Thompson of Mississippi, scheduled the vote last week after Meadows failed to show up at his deposition. A transcript from that meeting was released Sunday by a member the investigative team. It details many of the questions they might have asked. A lot of questions focus on Trump’s attempts to win the election, and Meadows outreach to the states. Also his communication with Congress members.
Committee staff said they would have interviewed Meadows about emails “to leadership at the Department of Justice on December 29th and 30th, 2020, and January 1st, 2021, encouraging investigations of suspected voter fraud,” even though election officials and courts across the country had refuted the claims. The panel stated that Meadows, an ex-Republican congressman from North Carolina also sent text messages to and from Congress members “before, during and after the attack against the United States Capitol.” “
One exchange with a lawmaker concerned efforts to contact state legislators about the election because “POTUS wants to chat with them.” The acronym POTUS is the president of United States.
A text exchange was held with a senator. Meadows stated that Trump believed Vice President Mike Pence could reject voters in his position as presiding over certification. Pence was not granted that power by law as his function as vice president is mostly ceremonial.
Other texts sent by Meadows to his former colleagues the day before the attack encouraged Meadows to encourage Trump to stop the violence. The committee stated.
Similarly, in an exchange with an organizer of the rally that morning – where Trump told his supporters to “fight like hell” – the organizer told Meadows that they “desperately” needed direction from him because things “have gotten crazy.”
Meadows, who has balked at the committee’s questions, citing Trump’s claims of executive privilege, has sued the panel, asking the court to invalidate two subpoenas he says are “overly broad and unduly burdensome.” Plaintiff claims that the committee overreach by issuing a subpoena for Verizon’s cell phone records.
Thompson, and Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney (the committee’s Republican vice-chairwoman), said that the lawsuit would not succeed in slowing down or stopping the Select Committee from investigating the matter.
The panel has already interviewed almost 300 witnesses and lawmakers, and says it plans a series of hearings early next year to make many of its findings public.
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